Program reveals farm soil secrets

David CharlesworthSouth Western Times

Farmers have had the secrets of their soil revealed in a workshop hosted by the Leschenault Catchment Council.

On February 21, 29 farmers from Harvey, Benger, Brunswick and Donnybrook attended the workshop to receive a coloured map of nutrient levels on their properties, paddock by paddock.

Agronomists at the workshop worked with the farmers to interpret the results.

Leschenault Catchment Council project officer Julie Chapman said it was an opportunity to give facts about nutrient and soil types to farmers who may not have had much experience with fertilisers.

Ms Chapman said the results showed there was already a lot of phosphorus from previous fertiliser programs on most properties and farmers needed to unlock it rather than put more into the soil.

“There is still excess phosphorus out there in the paddocks,” she said.

“Farmers need to work with soils to unlock the phosphorus trapped in the soil.”

Ms Chapman said those at the workshops also discussed the number of soil types in the South West, including sandy and clay, which affected whether nutrients were retained or lost.

She said the soil types could vary, even within the same farming property.

“That’s why it’s so important to look at the property paddock by paddock and not give a broad brush to everyone,” Ms Chapman said.

The nutrient mapping program is part of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Regional Estuaries Initiative aimed at working with farmers and local groups to reduce nutrient run-off into waterways.

Expressions of interest open in August for the next round of the nutrient mapping program.

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